If you were at a party and someone told you that a winged creature in tights would fly to your house during the night and deliver money, would you believe him?
Chances are, no. Because if you’re a realist like me you don’t believe in fantasy, only in real miracles like rainbows, meteorites, and Oxyclean.
Yet as parents we feel compelled to perpetuate the myth of the Tooth Fairy by fabricating strings of lies about a mythological creature who carries a wand and plies kids with dollar bills.
We stretch out those lies until their last teeth come in, the wisdom teeth---that’s when youngsters finally get wise to the fact that they’ve been duped by the Tooth Fairy, along with The Loch Ness Monster, Santa Clause and Obama’s promise for health care reform.
So it was on principle that when my first child’s mouth became ripe with loose teeth I resolved to dismiss the Tooth Fairy and adopt the Truth Fairy, a new heroine who would stand for honesty, integrity, and frugality.
“The Tooth Fairy is just a product of our imagination, like jackalopes, and Prince Charming,” I would tell my children. “The only thing you’ll ever get for a baby tooth is a grown up tooth and even that will eventually require filling, bleaching, and painful root canal.”
But I didn’t want to be a killjoy, spoiling the fun for everyone. I couldn’t deny my children their right to senseless fantasy, so I joined the ranks of Tooth Fairies across the globe.
With each Tooth Fairy visit my enthusiasm grew along with my children’s. Their gappy Mike Tyson grins and dollar bill dances were priceless.
But there was a price after all which I discovered the day this Tooth Fairy unknowingly fell short.
“What’s the matter? I asked my dejected daughter. Didn’t the Tooth Fairy come?”
“She brought me a dollar,” sighed Hannah.
“Nicole told me at school yesterday that the Tooth Fairy left her five dollars.”
“Five dollars!” How many teeth did she lose?”
To think I had finally gotten into the Tooth Fairy spirit only to be trumped by a fellow Tooth Fairy.
With the next lost tooth I raised the bar and slipped a $5 bill under Hannah’s pillow. Still I received no jack-o-lantern grin the following morning.
“Why the long face?” I asked my daughter. Didn’t the Tooth Fairy come?
“Uh huh. But she brought Nicole five dollars and a handwritten note.”
“Handwritten note?” I said weakly.
With the next lost tooth I offered up a $5 bill and a handwritten note signed, “Your ever faithful Tooth Fairy.” Again, the next day Hannah’s face registered disappointment.
“I see the Tooth Fairy brought you a five dollar bill and a handwritten note,” I said.
“Yes. But Nicole got five dollars, a handwritten note, and fairy dust.”
“Fairy dust!” I exclaimed.
How does a Tooth Fairy top that?
I determined that this fairy had been flying off track and called on my alter ego Truth Fairy. She didn’t destroy the myth but instead explained to my kids that the value of believing is greater than any dollar amount.
Even so, this Tooth Fairy sought early retirement. So I called our pediatric dentist.
“Dr. Nelson, when do kids finish losing their teeth?
“Usually at around age twelve. However, there are cases…”
“Cases when they’re much younger?” I asked hopefully, fantasizing about the day I could finally hang up my wand.
“Cases when the wisdom teeth come in crooked and have to be extracted,” he answered.
“And what age is that?”
When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother. Her hunger for adventure ultimately led her to local reporting, where she now finds herself thrown into harrowing situations and narrowly escaping dangerous places like lacrosse games and town hall meetings. Her new weekly humor column, Main Street Musings, highlights the humorous side of local news. Ms. Tognola lives in Chatham, New Jersey with her family.